Conservation or Economics?

There seem to be more and more calls to conserve and "save the environment" these days.

Now, I'm all for efficiency. I hate to see unnecessary waste, and I love nature. I pick up my trash. I own the most fuel efficient car in its class. I do what I can to keep things nice.

The environmentalists have one thing right. We can't continue to consume resources at our current rate. Something needs to be done, but I don't understand the current approach of advertising and trying to "shame" people into conservation.

Appealing to morality works in some cases, but it has absolutely no effect on the worst abusers -- corporations.

The only reasonable way to affect this behavior is to adjust costs or make laws. So instead of subsidizing cheap, dirty energy, money needs to be forcibly redirected and invested in new research and technology.

"But we can't do that! The economy will crumble, and people will lose jobs!"

Fine, keep relying on cheap, dirty coal/oil/natural gas forever, and see what happens.

Yes, people will lose jobs in some industries. But jobs will be created in others.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep driving to buy groceries when it's raining, and I'll leave my kitchen light on at night -- even though they both "waste" energy.

Why? Not to be a jerk, but because I refuse to be bullied into acting irrationally by some environmental marketing campaign.

Individual/personal energy use is a drop in the bucket compared to industry and agriculture.

I'll "do my part" when it makes good economic sense to do so.


  1. I like your post, Jason! There’s a terrific book called Life, Money and Illusion by Mike Nickerson that goes into more detail about the ideas raised in the essay and your blog post. It talks about what policy changes we need to make in order to get there. I liked it so much I bought twenty copies to give away. I’d be happy to send you one if you drop me your address via email. The book, interestingly, was funded by IDRC. I am repeatedly pleasantly surprised by certain pieces of our federal government.


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